In most of my friendships, I can find a...point of no return, for lack of a better term. A moment when I realized that there was no going back in this friendship, that we would be together forever, for better or worse.
I wish I had a story like that for my friendship with this girl. But I don't. But I'm going to tell you about her anyway.
I met her in junior high band, along with a handful of other people who have shaped my life. She was quiet; I was not. I giggled constantly; she did not. But we both played flute, so we were very well aware of each other. She was better than I was. She actually practiced. Obviously, I didn't. I switched to a different instrument, but we ended up playing a flute quartet with two other girls. We went to honor bands together and I pressured her to talk to the boy she had a crush on. I was a Dalmatian puppy and she was a full-grown housecat. Looking back now, I'm shocked that she didn't tell me to shut up and leave her alone. But she didn't, and we crossed the threshold from acquaintances to friends.
I had spent most of junior high running wild with two silly girls who ended up going to different high schools. At thirteen, I was a freshman in high school and running low on female friendship. I found myself clinging to her, searching desperately for familiarity.
For a thoughtless decision, it was the best I could have ever made.
The majority of my high school memories involve her. Marching band competitions. Going over to her house because her mom would make cream puffs. Forming a rock band that never really went anywhere. AP classes. Playing piano. Spring Trips. Touching every single thing in her room just to annoy her. Tackling her because I knew that she would scream. First dates. First kisses. Complaining about boys. Learning how to drive and failing our tests. Spring musicals: her in the orchestra and I onstage. College applications. Rejection letters. Leaving home.
Our friendship in college consisted of quick phone calls between classes, MSN conversations, silly afternoons together when we were home on break. Coldstone ice cream. Speeding down the streets we grew up on.
But I never knew how strong our friendship was until we were both out of the country. I don't know anyone else who would check on me every single day, just to make sure that I kept fighting. She accepted (and welcomed) midnight phone calls and text messages when my world was falling apart. She read every single letter that I sent, and faithfully answered each e-mail. She sent postcards from Asia and brought home presents for me. She listened to lengthy explanations of my nightmares and gave serious, thoughtful interpretations. After I got home and was still reeling from everything that had happened, she listened to me panic for longer than she should have.
Here's the truth: I would not have survived France without Nicole. She loved me when I wasn't strong enough to love myself, and did it with absolutely no judgment and an exceptional amount of wit. She is the person who knows me best; she knows every ugly secret and every broken piece of me.
She is the only person who can write gems like this:
"And yes, I would still love you if you never graduate. I would have to move to the East Coast for you to live in my basement, since we don't really have any in California, but you can live in my bathtub for now. Maybe you should sign up for the CIA or the FBI and put those stalking skills to good use."
She is the bubble tea to my chocolate waffle. She is My Crazy in Singapore. If I were dying of heatstroke because I tried to ride my bike on a really hot day, I would choose to lose consciousness on her kitchen floor. She is the only woman with whom I would co-author a book, live in a ridiculously expensive San Francisco loft, and raise an internationally adopted, quadrilingual baby.
My Crazy is back in California and I'm so lucky that I can call her up whenever I want.